When the dead speak, do we listen?
Professor Lee Russell of the Cross Branch of Miskatonic University offered this question to the University’s board in early 1936. After some consideration, the school decided that it was a valid concern, and they offered him a position as an instructor/researcher with a focus on calls from the dead.
Over the course of nearly a year, Professor Russell designed, adapted, and built a large telephone switchboard in the hopes of hearing the dead. This was not done out of some starry-eyed naivete, but out of genuine concern that the dead might wish to impart some information to the living.
On February 19, 1937, Professor Russell connected his switchboard to the University’s and waited.
Within less than an hour, he received his first phone call, one that was documented and recorded. It was a call from Malcolm Berkley, who killed himself in Gods’ Hollow in 1936. He beseeched Professor Russell to tear down the tower.
The second call came from Kimberly Bierce, who vanished along with her friends in 1898. She begged for directions home.
After that, the calls came in, far too fast for the Professor to answer, although he did his best.
Later that day, Professor Russell brought in three students to assist with the calls.
To this day, there are four people who man the phone lines. After a group suicide of operators in 1988, no one is allowed to work for more than one week at a time at the switchboard. Those who go back for a second rotation carry themselves with pride.
It is not easy to listen to the dead, or to hear what waits in the darkness of death.
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